Where to Shop and What to Buy in Ayutthaya
Home to skilled craftsmen and women, Ayutthaya is one of the best cities to pick up all kinds of handicrafts. In the old days, each community in the city practiced a specific craft, whether ironwork, boat building, wicker weaving, clay pottery, or stone masonry. Today, you can find them at many open-air markets across town.
If you are serious about Thai crafts, Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre is the place to go. Here, you can tour some 20 workshops for various crafts and watch as the craftsmen and women fashion their pieces together from scratch. Also notable is the Thai Village, where regional Thai houses are on display along with the crafts specific to each region, which you can also purchase. So, if you are short on time, Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre is a good place to include in your itinerary.
Another highlight is Ayodhaya Floating Market, which re-interprets the floating markets of the bygone era as an island peppered with quaint wooden shops, floating restaurants and a stage for cultural performances.
Ayodhaya Floating Market
This medium-sized market is a modern interpretation of what traditional floating markets looked like back in Ayutthaya’s heyday. Walled in and surrounded by a moat, just like the city of Ayutthaya itself, the market is spread over an island accessible by wooden bridges.
Once inside, a wooden platform takes you through the shops and stalls, all decked out to resemble a quaint market of yesteryear. Enjoy strolling through the 14 market zones, named after the actual market, offering everything from wooden toys and wicker handicrafts to hand-painted T-shirts and Ayutthaya-style ‘boat noodles’. You can even board a rowboat, which navigates through the market like it would centuries ago.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
- Location: North of the Chedi roundabout (east of the inner city, from Highway 309), near Wat Maheyong
- How to get there: From Highway 309, turn right at the chedi roundabout and continue until you see the market sign on your right
This modern shopping mall has some 400 shops housed inside its two zones. Occupying two floor spaces, the Plaza Zone offers lifestyle products, from brand name clothing to leather goods, cosmetics and fashion accessories. The Water Zone has a large grouper pond and, around it, a lineup of fast food restaurants, food court as well as an activities area for live cultural performances (on weekends and national holidays).
- Location: Khlong Suan Plu District, where Highway 309 meets Highway 32
Bangsai Royal Arts and Crafts Centre
Part of the training ground for skilled craftsmen and women, the centre has two main zones where you can browse through a diverse array of handicrafts. The Thai village, set on the Chao Phraya River banks, is like a living museum offering a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of people from Thailand’s four regions. You can buy regional handicrafts from each of these villages, some of which you will also find housed inside the main building (Sala Phra Ming Kwan). For those who are curious to learn about the crafts, visit the training workshops just opposite the main building and watch the skilled craftsmen at work – they are more than happy to show you their craft.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 (closed Mondays)
- Location: Bang Sai District
- How to get there: Hire a taxi or van with driver from Bangkok
Chao Phrom Market
This busy market has been around since Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam. It houses a large concentration of amulet shops, food stalls and vendors selling all kinds of wares you can find anywhere else in the city. Although the market has lost its charms of the old days, as many shop-houses now sport a concrete façade instead of wood, it is still one of the few places to savour a cheap and delicious meal. Or if you are a collector of amulets, this is definitely where to go. Note that stores may open and close at different times, so there’s really no official opening or closing hours.
- Location: Corner of Naresuan and U-Thong Roads
Hua Ro Market
Similar to Chao Phrom Market, Hua Ro was a busy trade area in the old days. The market has two zones: the zone for dry goods is housed inside a yellow building, whereas the food zone is inside the building immediately to its west. Hua Ro Market has visitors throughout the day and is worth a visit if you happened to be nearby.
- Location: U-Thong Road, opposite Wang Chan Kasem Museum
Khlong Sra Bua
Home to a community of Thai-Mon-Lao potters, Khlong Sra Bua has long been Ayutthaya’s centre for clay pottery. Once a narrow khlong (canal) cut through the community, allowing trade boats to carry merchandise to the north, thus giving birth to the floating market. Today, the khlong is no longer navigable, but the pottery is still around.
- Location: Opposite Wat Na Phramen
Market at Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bophit
Occupying the parking lot space between Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bophit and Wat Phra Si Sanphet, this outdoor market offers a range of handicrafts unique to Ayutthaya. Apart from the typical merchandise, you can buy bamboo fish mobiles, wicker (farmer’s) hats and miniature clay dolls of local villagers and floating market vendors.
- Location: In front of Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bophit